Loose cable undermines CERN's faster-than-light claims

 

Reports of GPS timing glitch emerge.

An experiment that last year claimed to have observed faster-than-light particles may have been undermined by a faulty fibre optic cable.

Last September, LHC operator CERN announced that its OPERA experiment had discovered neutrinos travelling 0.002 percent faster than the speed of light.

Einstein had said nothing could ever travel faster than light, and doing so would be like traveling back in time.

But James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN, said on Wednesday the lab's startling result was now in doubt.

Earlier on Wednesday, ScienceInsider, a website run by the respected American Association for the Advancement of Science, reported that the surprising result was down to a loose fibre optic cable linking a Global Positioning System satellite receiver to a computer.

Gillies confirmed that a flaw in the GPS system was now suspected as a possible cause for the surprising reading. Further testing was needed before any definite conclusions could be reached, he added.

The faster-than-light finding was recorded when 15,000 neutrino beams were pumped over three years from CERN to an underground Italian laboratory at Gran Sasso near Rome.

"A possible explanation has been found. But we won't know until we have tested it out with a new beam to Gran Sasso," Gillies told Reuters in Geneva.

Physicists on the experiment, called OPERA, said when they reported it last September that they had checked and rechecked over many months anything that could have produced a misreading before announcing what they had found.

A second test whose results were announced in November appeared to provide further evidence that neutrinos were travelling faster than light. But many experts remained sceptical of a result that would have overturned one of the fundamental principles of modern physics.

Gillies said CERN would be issuing a full statement early on Thursday.

(Reporting by Bob Evans in Geneva and Kate Kelland in London; Editing by Peter Graff)


Loose cable undermines CERN's faster-than-light claims
 
 
 
Top Stories
First look: Microsoft Outlook for iOS
[Update] Office productivity suite for iOS completed with Outlook.
 
NewSat defaults on $26m in overdue Lockheed payments
Jabiru-1 satellite build hits further hurdles.
 
IBM denies plans to cut 112k jobs
But admits to further restructuring.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...
Latest Comments
Polls
Who do you trust most to protect your private data?







   |   View results
Your bank
  36%
 
Your insurance company
  5%
 
A technology company (Google, Facebook et al)
  9%
 
Your telco, ISP or utility
  8%
 
A retailer (Coles, Woolworths et al)
  4%
 
A Federal Government agency (ATO, Centrelink etc)
  18%
 
An Australian law enforcement agency (AFP, ASIO et al)
  14%
 
A State Government agency (Health dept, etc)
  7%
TOTAL VOTES: 3112

Vote
Do you support the abolition of the Office of the Information Commissioner?

   |   View results
I support shutting down the OAIC.
  27%
 
I DON'T support shutting the OAIC.
  73%
TOTAL VOTES: 994

Vote